At the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, paracetamol was almost as scarce as toilet paper.
The shortages affected many Australians, including Alex Philp, who needed pain relief after undergoing a knee reconstruction.
“I had to traipse around sometimes with two kids,” she said.
Global giant Johnson and Johnson was given approval to supply Tylenol until April this year. Now the product is here to stay.
“Now, coming into the market, it’s a help as an alternative brand that customers can go to,” Cabramatta East Day and Night Pharmacy’s Vu Huynh said.
Industry analysts say paracetamol demand has increased, largely due to the ageing population.
But pricing customers away from market leader Panadol will be tough, according to IBISWorld industry analyst Liam Harrison.
“Tylenol is going to have a significant struggle trying to build up its own brand reputation in order to really be able to compete against Panadol,” Mr Harrison said.
Government restrictions to combat misuse have made it harder to access codeine, and only last year long-acting paracetamol was placed behind the counter to tackle the disturbing rise in deliberate overdoses.
“It can lead to liver toxicity [and] liver failure,” Dr Christina Abdel Shaheed from the University of Sydney said.
Last month experts uncovered the true benefits of paracetamol.
Among 44 conditions, they could only find evidence that the drug was effective in just four types of pain.
“Those four conditions include knee and hip osteoarthritis, tension headache, perinatal pain following childbirth and craniotomy, which is the removal of part of the skull,” Dr Abdel Shaheed said.
But Ms Philp believes pain relievers are effective.
“It was really important in my recovery,” she said.